ZeZe wins high profile humanitarian award
02 Jul 2020
At the age of only 18, Zaynab (aka ZeZe) has spent time in eight different secure psychiatric settings. Despite her history, Zaynab has channelled her inner resilience to share her experience for the benefit of others. This mission to shape mental health services for the better has seen her presented with the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts – The Diana Award.
About the Diana Award
Established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Award is given out by the charity of the same name and has the support of both her sons, The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex. The exceptional young people who are honoured by the award have demonstrated their ability to inspire and mobilise their generation to serve their communities through campaigning, volunteering, fundraising, fighting injustice or overcoming extreme life challenges. In Zaynab’s case, her own journey through the UK’s mental health system – including her diagnoses of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and Autism, as well as depression, psychosis and attachment issues – has made her an impassioned, vocal and active advocate for change.
From 3:1 care to supported living
Previously, Zaynab required 3:1 round the clock care to protect herself and others, had to be tube-fed and made multiple and regular attempts on her own life. Today, she lives in our supported living accommodation, and her focus is very much on shaping provision in Birmingham.
When asked about her journey and current focus, Zaynab explains: “I’ve been in two acute wards, two psychiatric intensive care units and a (forensic) low secure, all from 5 admissions over 4 years of my adolescence. But now, here I am. A mental health ambassador with different organisations, an expert by experience, an advisor at two universities, training junior doctors on mental health, a research lead for a mental health improvement group and, more recently, I have become co-chair. More importantly, I am the most well I have been in seven years. Look at me now. I am immensely proud. I have come a long way in my recovery and have a long way to go, but I have built a life worth living.”
Shaping mental health provision in Birmingham
Zaynab is also working with the team at Think4Brum to explore the possibility of creating guidance materials on mental health specifically aimed at the Muslim community. With around 30% of the population in Birmingham identifying as Muslim, Zaynab is keen to give something back to the community which would benefit others in her position.
Fergal Cawley, CEO at Precious Homes, who nominated Zaynab for the award, commented, “In our line of work, we support people every day to make progress in life and become more independent, so we see some amazing success stories. Zaynab’s story has been a fantastic one and her passion and dedication are awe-inspiring. We were extremely proud to nominate her for the award and are thrilled that her progress and commitment has been recognised. Well done ZeZe!”
Tessy Ojo, Chief Executive, The Diana Award, says; “We congratulate all our new Diana Award Recipients from the UK and across the world who are changemakers for their generation. We know by receiving this honour they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journey as active citizens.”